The Web as a Visual Medium

On Thursday, July 24, 2003, at 07:48 PM, Afternoon wrote:
>> No, sorry.  The Web is an information medium.  You may perceive it as
>> a visual medium, and it supports (and is in some ways optimized for)
>> a visual presentation, but it's not a visual medium.
> We're going to have to agree to disagree on this one. The web, unlike 
> previous computer-based broadcast technologies, such as Usenet, is a 
> mass-market medium. It can not occupy the role it does without it's 
> visual component. XML is an information medium, pure and simple, but 
> it is not consumed by humans. HTML is and hence must support visual 
> techniques. Even if these are as simple as a slighter bigger font for 
> a heading, there must be visual differentiation to create structure. 
> The web isn't visual like magazines and adverts aren't visual. Of 
> course they are, because human's don't just communicate in text.

You're free to view things as you wish, but please keep in mind that
saying "the Web is a visual medium" is vastly restrictive in
conceptual terms.  By drawing an artificial box around what "the
Web is" -- one which does NOT exist in reality -- you are limiting
what your conception of the Web may turn out to be.

Also keep in mind that there are many people who are regular Web
users for whom HTML is _not_ a visual experience.  For example,
Web users who are blind and use screen readers.  Their experience
is just as valid an expression of the Web as yours, except that
your definition excludes their experiences.

Also keep in mind that there are some browsers -- such as lynx
and it's variants -- for which headings are NOT displayed in
larger text.

By saying "the Web is a visual medium", instead of saying "the Web
is an information medium and the primary way most people access
that information is visually", you run the serious risk of
losing track of all that the Web could potentially be -- as well
as who could use it.


Kynn Bartlett <>           
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain      
Author, CSS in 24 Hours             
Inland Anti-Empire Blog            
Shock & Awe Blog                 

Received on Friday, 25 July 2003 00:34:03 UTC